Electrical Safety – AFCI Protection

As a licensed home inspector and construction coach I’m familiar with AFCI protection. I want homeowners to understand what it is, and why it’s so important.

To keep this topic in perspective, it’s best to start with your local building code compliance office.

In Mississippi, code officials choose certain sections of building safety codes they’d like to adopt/enforce. For example, “energy policies”. I haven’t found one local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) that has adopted the most recent ICC (international code council) energy code. The same goes with many other sections of the code book.

Each local community in Mississippi has its own specific set of building safety rules. Call your local code office (if you have one) and ask for the list of omissions to the current code.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, arc-faults are “the principle electrical failure mode resulting in fire”. Simply put an arc-fault is an unintentional arcing condition (sparking) that occurs in an electrical circuit. Arcing can create high intensity heat, which may over time ignite surrounding material such as wood framing or insulation.

There are a number of conditions which may cause dangerous arcing to occur, including:

• Damaged wires behind a wall
• Damaged cords that are plugged into an outlet
• Loose electrical connections
• Within electrical cords accidentally damaged by furniture or doors pressing or resting on them

What do AFCI Outlets and Circuit Breakers do?

AFCI Outlets and Circuit Breakers contain electronic components within the device that monitor the circuit for the presence of “normal” and “dangerous” arcing conditions.  If a dangerous arcing condition is detected, the AFCI is triggered to quickly react and cut power to the circuit.

AFCI Breaker Outlet

Where would I use AFCI protection?

The 2017 NEC – National Electrical Code® mandates AFCI protection in the following locations.

• Kitchens
• Family Rooms
• Dining Rooms
• Living Rooms
• Parlors
• Libraries
• Dens
• Bedrooms
• Sunrooms
• Recreation rooms
• Closets
• Hallways
• Laundry Areas

Most of our local code jurisdictions here in Mississippi require AFCI protection in bedrooms only. Call your local code official for more information.

Gary Smith – Licensed Home Inspector


AFCI and GFCI outlets and circuit breakers can look similar but provide very different protection.  It is important to understand the difference.

AFCI – Provides protection from electrical fires that could result from arc-faults. Protects users from shocks and electrocution.

GFCI – Protects users from shocks and electrocution.
Cuts off power if a ground fault is detected.

For more information on the difference between AFCI and GFCI protection, watch this video.

Leviton Manufacturing Co.

To learn more about Leviton’s full line of AFCI and GFCI protected devices, visit Leviton.com/safety.

Source: ElectricianTalk.com

Sponsored by: Leviton Manufacturing Co.
From electrical to lighting to networking, Leviton is engineering thoughtful solutions that help make life easier, safer, more efficient and more productive.

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